Why are offbeat Personal Cards are such an effective addition to a marketing campaign?

Why information alone is not enough to generate business.

Over 35 years ago as an active agent, I was trying to figure out how to stand out in my local marketplace. I had been sending out Just/Listed and Just/Solds as well as the standard free CMA coupons consistently for close to a year, but it was not working like I had hoped it would. I realized that I was sending out information that was similar to other agents. My mailings were higher quality and more personally branded than my competitors, but I realized that was not enough. I was new to the area and did not know a lot of people. I realized I needed to make a connection with the people in my farm so that they saw me as a person, not just a salesman. I knew that if I could build a relationship with them, it would increase my chance of becoming their agent of choice.

In my brainstorming as to how to stand out and connect with people in my farm, I came up with the idea of sending out a “Merry After Christmas” a card. I knew that would be different, draw a smile on the recipient’s face, and it would create an emotional connection. However, I could not find one in any store, so I hired an artist to draw an image of Mr. & Mrs. Claus relaxing with the words “Merry After Christmas.” On the inside, I put my name and a friendly picture of me and a fun message that I hoped who make a connection.

When I mailed out the cards, it generated a few thank you calls from people saying how clever the card was and how much they enjoyed it. But no one called me after I sent out the Merry After Christmas card and said come list my home. It had been pretty expensive to send out, and if you asked me a week after I sent it out if I thought it was a good marketing piece, I would have probably said “No.”

But then I would be in the grocery store or a restaurant, and a stranger would come up and say, “Hi, I liked your Merry After Christmas Card.” Then I mailed out a Market Update Card, and some calls with questions about the market came in, and one person asked me to give them a CMA. When I meet with them, it went well, and they listed with me, and I sold their home. During escrow, I dropped off some paperwork for them to sign and they had some friends over. They introduced me as their agent and turned to their friend and said, “This is the agent I was telling you about that sent out that Merry After Christmas Card, it was so clever that I knew this was the agent I was going to list with.”

Over the next few months, a number of people who called from Just/Listed or Just/Solds commented about how much they liked my Merry After Christmas card. I realized that it truly had made me stand out and it had built a personal connection with me.

April Fools Day Card

When I started doing marketing for other agents, I started to do some research. I took agents in similar markets both running similar marketing campaigns. Once each quarter with one agent I would substitute one of their branded Just/Listed or Just/Solds with an off-beat relationship building card like a Love Your Realtor Day or April Fools Day Kard. Consistently the agents who included three to four of these offbeat cards generated between 15% to 20% more business than the agents who did not include them. I ended up calling them PersonalKards.com, and they have been used successfully in a wide range of businesses.

My research shows that adding three or four relationship building pieces a year into an ongoing campaign produces the best results. I also found that they worked only when they were part of an informational rich marketing campaign. I knew this worked and I thought it was because it built that human connection. Then I read Robert B. Cialdini’s new book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade,” and he actually provides the scientific proof for how and why these type of fun connection building cards build relationships and influence behavior. It also explains why relationship building personal brochures are so effective and are becoming even more important today as we spend more time-consuming data from the internet. Remember, it’s all about standing out, making a strong impression and building an emotional connection. The Personal Kard and the Personal Brochure are designed to do just that. The bottom line is that building relationships is still the key to successfully building your real estate business. That is a fundamental principle that will never go away. It’s a shame that so many agents don’t understand the value of investing in relationship marketing.

I would appreciate your comments and feedback about this post.

Sincerely,

 

Greg Herder

CEO MegaAgent.com

High-Performance Branding & Marketing

PS This coming Wednesday at 11:00 PST I am conducting a free live webinar on How To Build a Successful Marketing Plan. If you would like to join me Press this Link.

 


How Long before Your Peak Selling Season Should you Start Marketing to Ensure Maximum Results?

How to set up the peak selling season for success.

At the start of each year, I get questions about when agents should kick their marketing into high gear so that they ensure that they have a great spring selling season.

My answer, backed up by a huge amount of research data, is 90 days before the start of your peak season. Unfortunately, most agents wait until the spring season starts, to start their marketing. About 70% of sellers start researching their options between two and four months before they list.  Yes, that means that 30% wait until the last minute and you will still generate business from starting your marketing late, but make no mistake it will cost you a lot of commissions.  

Some of my one-on-one coaching clients have had great success this month mailing out Powerkards and running Facebook Ads advertising a Free Prelisting Home Preparation Guide and or a Free Home Inspection.

The key to this type of marketing is making sure you have the follow-up systems in place so that every lead you generate now gets followed up with two or three pieces a month for the next six months. You must understand that the majority of leads generated in January and February will turn into listings in April, May, and June if you follow up consistently.

Now is also a good time to use the age old offer of a “Free Home Evaluation.”  Throughout history, this time of year produces a huge number of Free Home Valuation Offers. Even though we have seen an explosion of Home Value Offers online, they still offer homeowners something they value. The most successful offers today are hyper-localized offers that imply change and also build your brand as an agent. Like the Powerkard offer we created that drives people to LagunaWoodsHomeValues.com.

Remember that when you start marketing three months in advance of your prime selling time, your marketing message should remind people that now is the time to prepare and to make sure your brand as an agent is also “Top of Mind.” Offers from well-known (branded) agents tend to produce dramatically higher conversion rates than blind (unbranded) offers.

 Finally remember to make your offers (lead magnets) something consumers value, not something you as an agent believe they should find valuable. Then automate your follow up plan, so that you do not let the goodwill and leads you generate today, slip through your fingers.

Now get to work!

I would greatly appreciate it if you would post your comments about this blog post and share it with those who you think would find it valuable.

Sincerely,

 

Greg Herder

P.S. I am doing a free webinar next Wednesday at 12:00 am PST.  Titled How to Create a Winning Marketing Plan. If you would like to join me press this link.  Click Here


License to Sell! The Art of Turning a Conversation into a Listing!

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O ver the years, we’ve preached the importance of changing from a “sales mentality” to a “marketing mentality.” A sales mindset is basically chasing prospects who are ready to sell now, while a marketing mindset is all about setting up a system where you brand yourself and work that brand to create a steady flow of business coming your way.

A marketing mindset puts you in the minds of consumers long BEFORE they need to sell. (I can’t tell you how many times clients have told me that they go to take a listing and the home owner says, “we always knew we were going to use you when we were ready to sell, and now we are!” That is the type of result you’ll see by moving to a marketing mentality.) (more…)


License to Sell! The Art of Turning a Conversation into a Listing!

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Over the years, we’ve preached the importance of changing from a “sales mentality” to a “marketing mentality.” A sales mindset is basically chasing prospects who are ready to sell now, while a marketing mindset is all about setting up a system where you brand yourself and work that brand to create a steady flow of business coming your way. A marketing mindset puts you in the minds of consumers long BEFORE they need to sell. (I can’t tell you how many times clients have told me that they go to take a listing and the home owner says, “we always knew we were going to use you when we were ready to sell, and now we are!” That is the type of result you’ll see by moving to a marketing mentality.)

However, like many things in life, it’s not an easy process. A common question and quandary that I hear when consulting with clients is, “Selling real estate and handling transactions is a full time job, when do I have time for implementing my branding and marketing?”

Think Big Picture and Long Range
In the 26 years I have been working with agents and helping them with their marketing and branding, that has been a common question and dilemma. The advice I always give is to look at it from a big picture and long range perspective. A strategic branding campaign and marketing plan that is correctly implemented is designed to be a semi-automated way to create a steady flow of clients coming your way. It allows you to create a flow of leads so that you are not spending so much energy chasing and prospecting for leads, they are coming to you. Yes, you are spending money to have the branding created and implemented, but you are not spending precious time and energy on CHASING leads, and the results more than pay for your expenses.

It takes some time to get an effective brand created and established. So in the beginning, yes, it can be a lot of work, but your diligence and focus will pay off.

Marketing & Prospecting
A perfect example of that diligence and focus paying off is Dayton, OH agent, Phil Herman.  He has spent over 20 years working with our agency to build a brand and create optimum name recognition. Many years ago, he went through that “sweat equity” phase of building the branding and marketing, just like many agents have to. Over time, he was able to take his earnings and leverage it into building the brand and turning it into a lead generating machine. He now spends more money in his marketing and advertising budget than the vast majority of agents earn in commissions North America (remember the old adage, it takes money to make money!). That being said, one of the things that strikes me about Phil is that even though he has this big machine working for him bringing him leads, he is still hungry and looks for every opportunity to prospect. He is not afraid to make 100 calls a day. This week, he shared with me that he had 15 listing appointments on his calendar for Monday and Tuesday!

A Superstar at Both
Phil completes on average about 300 transactions a year, and has been doing that production for several years. What has made Phil’s rise so remarkable is that he is both a consummate marketer and a consummate salesperson. It’s a powerful combination.

One Great Example
An example of this “consummate salesman” is his lack of fear of making 100 calls a day. Another example is Phil’s ability to turn ordinary daily encounters with people into a sales pitch. Here is an example: Phil has a life and business philosophy built around the Japanese mindset of “Kaizen.” That is the philosophy of “constant improvement” through constant learning. He actually got a personalized license plate with this word. Phil shares with me that people constantly see his plates and then ask him “what does that mean?” He quickly explains the philosophy, then masterfully turns the conversation into properties and real estate, and on several occasions, he was able to get listings from those conversations.

Conversation=Listing
For instance, Phil was filling his car at a gas station. A man approached him and asked about his license plate. Phil explained the philosophy and told the man that it’s an important part of how he approaches daily life. Phil also explained that the philosophy is exactly what Phil and his business team embrace. The man “bit the bait” and asked Phil what he did for a living. That’s how Phil turned the conversation around to real estate. It turned out that the man was getting ready to sell his home and Phil got the listing — from a casual conversation!

In fact, that is one of the top ways to do this, ask the person you are talking with what they do for a living. It opens the door to introduce yourself as a Realtor®. The other way to do this is to find a comfortable way to find out where they live, then you have multiple ways to bring the conversation around (“I just took a listing there”; “the housing market there is doing well”; “one of my favorite developments to take buyers to.” etc.).

MARKETING TIP: When you do have a face-to face encounter, (whether or not you were able to turn the conversation to real estate) be sure to pass out your personal brochure as you disengage from the conversation. If you made a favorable impression, the brochure will solidify you in the mind of this prospect! In fact, we have always coached our clients to carry a stack of personal brochures and hand them out instead of business cards. It’s an essential and effective part of a successful marketing campaign. In fact, it’s an integral factor in Greg’s powerful E-Book, “How To Generate 10 Transactions in 90 Days with Your Personal Prospecting Brochure.” Please send me a link to download 10 Transactions in 90 Days ebook

The point of this blog is that it is important to switch from a sales mentality to a marketing mentality to grow your business and take control of your time. It helps you get off the “hamster wheel” of chasing deals and looking for the next hot prospect. However, as Phil has shown, even though you have established a successful marketing campaign and system, you should never stop your daily prospecting, always be ready for the face to face encounter that can be turned into potential business. (The fact that you have a brand and name recognition makes it even more effective.)

As you go about your day to day routine, look for ways to engage with people and if the conversation lends itself to it, move it to a discussion of real estate. Don’t force it. It takes practice. You may want to explore several scenarios you might encounter, and craft some ideas how to turn the conversation gently and naturally. Good luck and happy marketing and prospecting!

Dennis LeBlanc
VP/Creative Director

 

 

 


Why Are You in Real Estate?

Greg Herder poses the critical question to help you determine the purpose of your career. Learn why having a true purpose – beyond making money – is a critical component of long-term success, and happiness, in real estate.

More than likely you did not grow up dreaming of being a real estate agent. In fact, becoming a salesperson of any sort was most likely something you never aspired to become. You may even have some feelings of ambivalence now that you are in sales instead of more traditional professions like being an architect, engineer, doctor, lawyer or accountant. In the back of your mind you are probably asking yourself: “how did I end up selling real estate and why does it seem so hard.”

If you are like most people, looking at real estate from the outside probably seemed so easy. After buying a home or two, you felt that it would not be hard for you to do a better job than the agent you worked with. You read newspaper articles about successful real estate agents who were making tons of money and it seemed like real estate would offer you unlimited income potential, flexible hours and a chance to be your own boss. So you made the plunge and decided to become a real estate agent.

The Common Misconceptions

What you didn’t understand was what a real estate agent really has to do to succeed, what skills you would need to have and how few agents actually make it in this industry. In fact, the numbers show that three out of 10 people that get into real estate leave during their first year. Only four out of 10 last five years and only eight percent of those who start in real estate make it to that magic 10 year mark – the milestone that most people say is the minimum amount of time that it takes to build a big enough past client and referral base that your business becomes self sustaining and much more enjoyable. Even then, in a recent survey that Hobbs/Herder Research conducted of agents with more than 10 years of experience, less then half of them said that they were earning the income that they had hoped for when they started real estate.

Over the years I have had numerous discussions about how the perception of real estate is easy, has flexible hours with high income and attracts a lot of people into real estate who end up failing. Over the years I have followed all the research studies to try and figure out what the key factors to success in real estate are. The research has looked at age, education level, past experience, broker training, brokerage size, people skills and a wide range of other factors. In study after study, no significant factor for success emerges that could be used to predict success in real estate.

What’s Your Purpose?

Recently, I went back and re-read a book titled Purpose: The Starting Point for Great Companies. As I went through the book, I realized that its message was critical to the success of an individual real estate agent. The message of the book is that if a business is just in business to make money or pay dividends, it would never experience truly great success. As I read the book, it helped crystallize my belief that the number one predictor of success in real estate is the purpose that a real estate agent has being in real estate. If it is simply to make money and have flexible hours, then they are destined to fail.

Identify Your Objectives
The key is to ask yourself why you want those things, what do they mean to you and what does it mean if you don’t have them. Longtime client, Realtor® Peggy Lucas is a prime example of what I am talking about. Back in 2003, she was a police officer and left law enforcement in order to have more flexibility and the opportunity to earn more money. She was smart, disciplined and loved people but found her first year in real estate a nightmare, working 60 hours a week and experiencing a drop in income.

It was only after attending the Hobbs/Herder Marketing Mastery seminar in 2004 that Peggy started really thinking about why she was in real estate. The seminar helped her reconnect with her purpose to become the best mother she could be, and reevaluate her career to determine what skills she needed to have to succeed in real estate on the terms that fit her life and values. Looking back, she realizes that not until she acknowledged that she was not living up to her own values and purpose was she ready to make the necessary changes to succeed. Once she reconnected with what her core beliefs in life were, she was able to make the changes internally that allowed her to develop a plan for her life and her real estate career that allowed her to turn it around and go on to accomplish massive success in real estate.

And now in 2015, more than 10 years down the road, she is a phenomenal success story, outlasting the law of averages, she’s a respected Top Producer and co-owner of her own brokerage, Lucas & Associates, with husband David. She now shares her knowledge and inspirational guidance with her team of agents, giving back to the industry!

The reality is that right now you probably already know a ton of things that could improve your success in real estate, improve your relationships and your financial health, but you simply cannot bring yourself to take the action you know you should. You don’t want to rock the boat. After all, it could get worse. The reality is that the only way to overcome the inertia that is keeping you stuck is to reconnect with what your simple purpose in life really is. You have to answer the question “Why are you in real estate?” If the answer is simply to make money, please do yourself a favor and get out now. It will save you a lot of time and grief. If, on the other hand, you can find a reason (purpose) for being in real estate greater than yourself, your chances for success will go through the roof.

I urge you to set aside some time to reflect on your personal objectives and the real purpose of your career. Then analyze how you spent the first half of 2015 to see if your actions are aligned with your objectives. The answers just might surprise you. Regardless of whether or not your actions have been aligned with your purpose, it will be a valuable exercise for you. Even if you are on track, it’s never a bad idea to set aside some time to remind yourself why you do what you do.


Phil Herman Dayton’s Top Realtor Shares How he Closed 6000 Transactions

In this powerful interview Greg Herder gets Dayton’s Top Realtor Phil Herman to shares how he has closed over 6000 transactions in his amazing real estate career. Phil shares how he get sellers to come into his office for his listing presentations and so much more this is an hour of nonstop information that you will not want to miss. 


How to Find a Niche that Gives You a Long-Term Sustainable Advantage!

Agents looking for a competitive advantage in their markets need to stop looking for quantifiable benefits and start looking to make an emotional connection with a specific market segment. Greg describes how to find the right niche for you that can’t be duplicated by your competitors.

Agents, both rookies and veterans, constantly come up and ask me what’s the hottest new marketing angle that they can use to differentiate themselves? I always tell them the same thing, it’s not hot, it’s not new, but without a doubt the best way to succeed in real estate is to find a niche that gives you a long-term sustainable advantage over all the other agents in your marketplace. They always say, “Greg, that’s exactly what I am looking for! Tell me, what niche will give me a long term sustainable advantage?”

I always tell them, every agent has a different niche that will give them a long-term sustainable advantage, but they have to find it within themselves. I tell them finding it is without a doubt the hardest and most important thing they will ever do in their real estate career and, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. My objective in this article is to guide you along this path so that you can find your niche.

Emphasize the Differences
Start by asking the question “What advantage would an agent have if they had a niche that differentiated them in a way that gave them a long-term advantage over their competition?” Unless you understand the true value in creating a long-term competitive advantage, you will never be able to make the sacrifices necessary and will always be looking for the broadest marketing appeal and end up with marginal results.

Next, ask yourself, “What elements make something a long-term competitive advantage in real estate?” I believe the answer to this is simple. It’s offering your clients something that they value and respond to at an emotional level, and that your competitors have a very difficult time duplicating.

Don’t Quantify Your Niche
Once you understand this, you will understand why most agents’ efforts to differentiate themselves fail miserably. They work extraordinarily hard to offer something new or different, and as soon as what they are doing starts to produce results, their competitors copy them, effectively killing off any chance of a sustainable differentiation. I have seen this over and over again with countless numbers of agents’ Service Plans, Guaranteed Sales programs, Direct Response Systems and Advertising Campaigns that quantify some number as proof of an agent’s value. The problem is, most agents don’t ask themselves, “If I launch this program, how will my competitors respond?” It is always critical to ask yourself where the weaknesses exist in your strategy.

What Drives You
After agents go through this mental exercise, many of them email me and say, “Greg, this is hard. I cannot find anything to differentiate myself with.” So I ask them to think about what their friends and family find most interesting about them. I also ask if they have any specialized knowledge of an industry or hobby that they are totally passionate about. Once you have identified these areas of who you are, think about the niche markets that you could select from in your area. What you are looking for is a target market that will emotionally respond to one of your personality traits, specialized knowledge, or passions that you have. Then you ask yourself how you could serve this group of consumers in ways that amplify these differences, and that agents will have a hard time copying.

Be True to Yourself
One of our early clients at Hobbs/Herder was a horsewoman who had competed in the Olympics in dressage 20 years before she started in real estate. When I met her, she was frustrated with how things were going in real estate. She was a very disciplined agent who provided outstanding service, but was struggling to attract a steady flow of clients. She had been promoting herself as the agent with outstanding service but found that was just not setting her apart in a way that emotionally resonated with consumers. After getting to know her and understanding her personality and background, I suggested that she refocus her marketing efforts to go after people that loved horses and upscale horse property.

We crafted her marketing materials to tell her story of how she used her passion for horses and personal discipline to overcome her shyness and go on to great success as a dressage rider, and how today she used what she learned in dressage to create success in her real estate career. Horse people instantly connected with her story in an emotional way. In dressage, the horse and rider are judged on the elegance, precision and discipline of the horse’s movements. All of her marketing materials carried this theme that served to differentiate her in a way that became almost impossible for anther agent to duplicate.

Connecting with an Area or Lifestyle
When agent Damian DiCesare signed up for his Hobbs/Herder Personal Brochure, we looked to connect Damian with the West Hollywood area of Southern California. This regional niche was a natural since Damian was so familiar with the area and its lifestyle, and the focus helped him capitalize and leverage the networking he had steadily built up over the years. It was the perfect niche and he has sustained his presence in this market for many years.

Use Emotion to Your Advantage
The most amazing thing to me is that this approach seemed so natural and so right to the client, yet she fought it all along the way. She did not what to talk about the Olympics because she had not won a medal, it was a long time ago, people didn’t care about what she had done in the past, and a laundry list of other stuff. She wanted to talk about her service program and her own experience in buying and selling her own homes over the years.
The problem was that lots of other agents provided pretty good service, and had lots more experience in buying and selling their own homes that would allow them to imitate and even exceed her claims. The real problem is that those things simply do not create an emotional connection with consumers and they turn into just more meaningless marketing messages that get ignored, no matter what marketing gimmick you use.

Agents tell me, “Greg, that’s great, but I never competed in the Olympics!” That’s fine, but I promise there is something about you, your personality or your passions that a segment of people will respond to in an emotional way that will give you your long-term sustainable competitive advantage.

Find Your Connection
The opportunity is to look inside yourself and find that one thing. Until you have that to build on, you are simply spinning your wheels and you will always be disappointed with the results of your marketing efforts. I know it can be hard, even frustrating at times, to figure out, but the payoff is huge. If you can’t do it on your own, hire someone who can help you – it’s the best investment you will ever make in your real estate career.

 


The 4 Fundamentals to Success in Sales, with Greg Herder

In this show Greg Herder takes a look at four fundamental activies that will ensure your success at selling anything. These keys may sound simple, but they are not always easy to do. Greg has found that most people stuggling in sales are failing because they are missing one or more of these fundamentals.

1.) Have somthing great to sell

2.) Talk to lots of people everyday

3.) Provide great service

4.) Be Real Nice

In the show Greg breaks these down so that you can make sure that you accomplish the sales objectives you have set for yourself. The show is not only educational but it will give you some great insights in a lot of different areas of your life.